I heart pears. Seriously, I love them. I like them under-ripe, over-ripe, in desserts, whatever. Since I’ve been wanting to make a crostata for a while now, and my pears were perfectly ripe and crying out to be used in some magical way, the winter pear crostata was born!
Do you know about crostata? It’s basically a free form pie. For you fretful folks who shy away from pie, this could be your new best friend! I really, REALLY enjoyed folding up the edges of the pastry, encasing the fruit. I felt crafty, and also like Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey. I suppose crostata is technically Italian, but I could see Mrs. Patmore making something similar. Oh how I love Downton Abbey.
If you look at the ingredients in this dessert, you’ll see that it’s not so bad for you. My husband and I recently watched the documentary “Forks over Knives” – interesting but the restricted diet would make you a social pariah – no one would want to have you over! Though we won’t follow the whole vegan thing, we DO try to eat “whole foods” as much as possible. Now, this dessert has some refined flour and sugar, but on the whole it’s full of recognizable, REAL foods. I was happy to share my dessert with my 1 year old, knowing the bites would be good for her little body.
This dessert would be perfect after a traditional dinner – I’m talking roast chicken, beef stew, or any kind of soup. Crostata = fun.
Winter Pear Crostata
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. cold water
1/3 c. vegetable or canola oil
2 lb. pear (red or green), peeled, cored and sliced lengthwise – about 4 pears
1/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. milk, half and half or cream
1/2 c. crushed, toasted almonds
1. Make crust: whisk flours, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix water and oil in a glass measuring cup. Add to flour mixture all at once and stir with a fork until mixed.
2. Lay out 1 sheet of parchment paper. Mound dough in bowl and transfer to center of parchment. Top with a second piece of parchment OR waxed paper.
3. Roll out the dough between the paper sheets until it is a 12/14 inch diameter circle. Transfer dough to fridge to chill about 20 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine pears, sugar, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, cinnamon,and nutmeg.
5. Remove dough from fridge and set onto heavy baking sheet, parchment side down. Peel off top layer of parchment/waxed paper.
6. Mound pears evenly in the center of the dough circle.
7. Using your hands or a flat spatula, fold up edges onto filling, encasing it but leaving a large, visible hole in the top.
8. Brush the exposed crust with milk and sprinkle with almonds.
9. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling. You should see the liquid bubbling in the corners around the pears.
10. Let cool at least twenty minutes before serving, topped with vanilla ice cream.
If made ahead, keep covered with plastic wrap at room temperature. To serve warm, remove plastic and place in a 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Can be made up to 24 hours ahead.